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King Henry IV, Part I

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ACT I SCENE III London. The palace.
KING HENRY IVMy blood hath been too cold and temperate,
Unapt to stir at these indignities,
And you have found me; for accordingly
You tread upon my patience: but be sure
I will from henceforth rather be myself,5
Mighty and to be fear'd, than my condition;
Which hath been smooth as oil, soft as young down,
And therefore lost that title of respect
Which the proud soul ne'er pays but to the proud.
EARL OF WORCESTEROur house, my sovereign liege, little deserves10
The scourge of greatness to be used on it;
And that same greatness too which our own hands
Have holp to make so portly.
KING HENRY IVWorcester, get thee gone; for I do see15
Danger and disobedience in thine eye:
O, sir, your presence is too bold and peremptory,
And majesty might never yet endure
The moody frontier of a servant brow.
You have good leave to leave us: when we need20
Your use and counsel, we shall send for you.
[Exit Worcester]
You were about to speak.
[To North]
NORTHUMBERLANDYea, my good lord.
Those prisoners in your highness' name demanded,
Which Harry Percy here at Holmedon took,25
Were, as he says, not with such strength denied
As is deliver'd to your majesty:
Either envy, therefore, or misprison
Is guilty of this fault and not my son.
HOTSPURMy liege, I did deny no prisoners.30
But I remember, when the fight was done,
When I was dry with rage and extreme toil,
Breathless and faint, leaning upon my sword,
Came there a certain lord, neat, and trimly dress'd,
Fresh as a bridegroom; and his chin new reap'd35
Show'd like a stubble-land at harvest-home;
He was perfumed like a milliner;
And 'twixt his finger and his thumb he held
A pouncet-box, which ever and anon
He gave his nose and took't away again;40
Who therewith angry, when it next came there,
Took it in snuff; and still he smiled and talk'd,
And as the soldiers bore dead bodies by,
He call'd them untaught knaves, unmannerly,
To bring a slovenly unhandsome corse45
Betwixt the wind and his nobility.
With many holiday and lady terms
He question'd me; amongst the rest, demanded
My prisoners in your majesty's behalf.
I then, all smarting with my wounds being cold,50
To be so pester'd with a popinjay,
Out of my grief and my impatience,
Answer'd neglectingly I know not what,
He should or he should not; for he made me mad
To see him shine so brisk and smell so sweet55
And talk so like a waiting-gentlewoman
Of guns and drums and wounds,--God save the mark!--
And telling me the sovereign'st thing on earth

Was parmaceti for an inward bruise;
And that it was great pity, so it was,60
This villanous salt-petre should be digg'd
Out of the bowels of the harmless earth,
Which many a good tall fellow had destroy'd
So cowardly; and but for these vile guns,
He would himself have been a soldier.65
This bald unjointed chat of his, my lord,
I answer'd indirectly, as I said;
And I beseech you, let not his report
Come current for an accusation
Betwixt my love and your high majesty.70
SIR WALTER BLUNTThe circumstance consider'd, good my lord,
Whate'er Lord Harry Percy then had said
To such a person and in such a place,
At such a time, with all the rest retold,
May reasonably die and never rise75
To do him wrong or any way impeach
What then he said, so he unsay it now.
KING HENRY IVWhy, yet he doth deny his prisoners,
But with proviso and exception,
That we at our own charge shall ransom straight80
His brother-in-law, the foolish Mortimer;
Who, on my soul, hath wilfully betray'd
The lives of those that he did lead to fight
Against that great magician, damn'd Glendower,
Whose daughter, as we hear, the Earl of March85
Hath lately married. Shall our coffers, then,
Be emptied to redeem a traitor home?
Shall we but treason? and indent with fears,
When they have lost and forfeited themselves?
No, on the barren mountains let him starve;90
For I shall never hold that man my friend
Whose tongue shall ask me for one penny cost
To ransom home revolted Mortimer.
HOTSPURRevolted Mortimer!
He never did fall off, my sovereign liege,95
But by the chance of war; to prove that true
Needs no more but one tongue for all those wounds,
Those mouthed wounds, which valiantly he took
When on the gentle Severn's sedgy bank,
In single opposition, hand to hand,100
He did confound the best part of an hour
In changing hardiment with great Glendower:
Three times they breathed and three times did
they drink,
Upon agreement, of swift Severn's flood;105
Who then, affrighted with their bloody looks,
Ran fearfully among the trembling reeds,
And hid his crisp head in the hollow bank,
Bloodstained with these valiant combatants.
Never did base and rotten policy110
Colour her working with such deadly wounds;
Nor could the noble Mortimer
Receive so many, and all willingly:
Then let not him be slander'd with revolt.
KING HENRY IVThou dost belie him, Percy, thou dost belie him;115
He never did encounter with Glendower:
I tell thee,
He durst as well have met the devil alone
As Owen Glendower for an enemy.
Art thou not ashamed? But, sirrah, henceforth120
Let me not hear you speak of Mortimer:
Send me your prisoners with the speediest means,
Or you shall hear in such a kind from me
As will displease you. My Lord Northumberland,
We licence your departure with your son.125
Send us your prisoners, or you will hear of it.
[Exeunt King Henry, Blunt, and train]
HOTSPURAn if the devil come and roar for them,
I will not send them: I will after straight
And tell him so; for I will ease my heart,
Albeit I make a hazard of my head.130
NORTHUMBERLANDWhat, drunk with choler? stay and pause awhile:
Here comes your uncle.
[Re-enter WORCESTER]
HOTSPURSpeak of Mortimer!
'Zounds, I will speak of him; and let my soul
Want mercy, if I do not join with him:135
Yea, on his part I'll empty all these veins,
And shed my dear blood drop by drop in the dust,
But I will lift the down-trod Mortimer
As high in the air as this unthankful king,
As this ingrate and canker'd Bolingbroke.140
NORTHUMBERLANDBrother, the king hath made your nephew mad.
EARL OF WORCESTERWho struck this heat up after I was gone?
HOTSPURHe will, forsooth, have all my prisoners;
And when I urged the ransom once again
Of my wife's brother, then his cheek look'd pale,145
And on my face he turn'd an eye of death,
Trembling even at the name of Mortimer.
EARL OF WORCESTERI cannot blame him: was not he proclaim'd
By Richard that dead is the next of blood?
NORTHUMBERLANDHe was; I heard the proclamation:150
And then it was when the unhappy king,
--Whose wrongs in us God pardon!--did set forth
Upon his Irish expedition;
From whence he intercepted did return
To be deposed and shortly murdered.155
EARL OF WORCESTERAnd for whose death we in the world's wide mouth
Live scandalized and foully spoken of.
HOTSPURBut soft, I pray you; did King Richard then
Proclaim my brother Edmund Mortimer
Heir to the crown?160
NORTHUMBERLANDHe did; myself did hear it.
HOTSPURNay, then I cannot blame his cousin king,
That wished him on the barren mountains starve.
But shall it be that you, that set the crown
Upon the head of this forgetful man165
And for his sake wear the detested blot
Of murderous subornation, shall it be,
That you a world of curses undergo,
Being the agents, or base second means,
The cords, the ladder, or the hangman rather?170
O, pardon me that I descend so low,
To show the line and the predicament
Wherein you range under this subtle king;
Shall it for shame be spoken in these days,
Or fill up chronicles in time to come,175
That men of your nobility and power
Did gage them both in an unjust behalf,
As both of you--God pardon it!--have done,
To put down Richard, that sweet lovely rose,
An plant this thorn, this canker, Bolingbroke?180
And shall it in more shame be further spoken,
That you are fool'd, discarded and shook off
By him for whom these shames ye underwent?
No; yet time serves wherein you may redeem
Your banish'd honours and restore yourselves185
Into the good thoughts of the world again,
Revenge the jeering and disdain'd contempt
Of this proud king, who studies day and night
To answer all the debt he owes to you
Even with the bloody payment of your deaths:190
Therefore, I say--
EARL OF WORCESTERPeace, cousin, say no more:
And now I will unclasp a secret book,
And to your quick-conceiving discontents
I'll read you matter deep and dangerous,195
As full of peril and adventurous spirit
As to o'er-walk a current roaring loud
On the unsteadfast footing of a spear.
HOTSPURIf he fall in, good night! or sink or swim:
Send danger from the east unto the west,200
So honour cross it from the north to south,
And let them grapple: O, the blood more stirs
To rouse a lion than to start a hare!
NORTHUMBERLANDImagination of some great exploit
Drives him beyond the bounds of patience.205
HOTSPURBy heaven, methinks it were an easy leap,
To pluck bright honour from the pale-faced moon,
Or dive into the bottom of the deep,
Where fathom-line could never touch the ground,
And pluck up drowned honour by the locks;210
So he that doth redeem her thence might wear
Without corrival, all her dignities:
But out upon this half-faced fellowship!
EARL OF WORCESTERHe apprehends a world of figures here,
But not the form of what he should attend.215
Good cousin, give me audience for a while.
HOTSPURI cry you mercy.
EARL OF WORCESTERThose same noble Scots
That are your prisoners,--
HOTSPURI'll keep them all;220
By God, he shall not have a Scot of them;
No, if a Scot would save his soul, he shall not:
I'll keep them, by this hand.
And lend no ear unto my purposes.225
Those prisoners you shall keep.
HOTSPURNay, I will; that's flat:
He said he would not ransom Mortimer;
Forbad my tongue to speak of Mortimer;
But I will find him when he lies asleep,230
And in his ear I'll holla 'Mortimer!'
I'll have a starling shall be taught to speak
Nothing but 'Mortimer,' and give it him
To keep his anger still in motion.235
EARL OF WORCESTERHear you, cousin; a word.
HOTSPURAll studies here I solemnly defy,
Save how to gall and pinch this Bolingbroke:
And that same sword-and-buckler Prince of Wales,
But that I think his father loves him not240
And would be glad he met with some mischance,
I would have him poison'd with a pot of ale.
EARL OF WORCESTERFarewell, kinsman: I'll talk to you
When you are better temper'd to attend.
NORTHUMBERLANDWhy, what a wasp-stung and impatient fool245
Art thou to break into this woman's mood,
Tying thine ear to no tongue but thine own!
HOTSPURWhy, look you, I am whipp'd and scourged with rods,
Nettled and stung with pismires, when I hear
Of this vile politician, Bolingbroke.250
In Richard's time,--what do you call the place?--
A plague upon it, it is in Gloucestershire;
'Twas where the madcap duke his uncle kept,
His uncle York; where I first bow'd my knee
Unto this king of smiles, this Bolingbroke,--255
When you and he came back from Ravenspurgh.
NORTHUMBERLANDAt Berkley castle.
HOTSPURYou say true:
Why, what a candy deal of courtesy260
This fawning greyhound then did proffer me!
Look,'when his infant fortune came to age,'
And 'gentle Harry Percy,' and 'kind cousin;'
O, the devil take such cozeners! God forgive me!
Good uncle, tell your tale; I have done.265
EARL OF WORCESTERNay, if you have not, to it again;
We will stay your leisure.
HOTSPURI have done, i' faith.
EARL OF WORCESTERThen once more to your Scottish prisoners.
Deliver them up without their ransom straight,270
And make the Douglas' son your only mean
For powers in Scotland; which, for divers reasons
Which I shall send you written, be assured,
Will easily be granted. You, my lord,
[To Northumberland]
Your son in Scotland being thus employ'd,275
Shall secretly into the bosom creep
Of that same noble prelate, well beloved,
The archbishop.
HOTSPUROf York, is it not?
EARL OF WORCESTERTrue; who bears hard280
His brother's death at Bristol, the Lord Scroop.
I speak not this in estimation,
As what I think might be, but what I know
Is ruminated, plotted and set down,
And only stays but to behold the face285
Of that occasion that shall bring it on.
HOTSPURI smell it: upon my life, it will do well.
NORTHUMBERLANDBefore the game is afoot, thou still let'st slip.
HOTSPURWhy, it cannot choose but be a noble plot;
And then the power of Scotland and of York,290
To join with Mortimer, ha?
EARL OF WORCESTERAnd so they shall.
HOTSPURIn faith, it is exceedingly well aim'd.
EARL OF WORCESTERAnd 'tis no little reason bids us speed,
To save our heads by raising of a head;295
For, bear ourselves as even as we can,
The king will always think him in our debt,
And think we think ourselves unsatisfied,
Till he hath found a time to pay us home:
And see already how he doth begin300
To make us strangers to his looks of love.
HOTSPURHe does, he does: we'll be revenged on him.
EARL OF WORCESTERCousin, farewell: no further go in this
Than I by letters shall direct your course.
When time is ripe, which will be suddenly,305
I'll steal to Glendower and Lord Mortimer;
Where you and Douglas and our powers at once,
As I will fashion it, shall happily meet,
To bear our fortunes in our own strong arms,
Which now we hold at much uncertainty.310
NORTHUMBERLANDFarewell, good brother: we shall thrive, I trust.
HOTSPURUncle, Adieu: O, let the hours be short
Till fields and blows and groans applaud our sport!

Continue to Henry IV, Part I, Act 2, Scene 1

At King Henry's palace Hotspur has returned to report on his prisoners. He tells the King that he had not refused to hand them over to the state, as Henry accuses, but that he simply responded foolishly to the King's messenger. It was just as the battle came to a close when the messenger approached the bloody and exhausted Hotspur, and he so enraged Hotspur with his idle chatter that Hotspur refused to answer him directly, and this was taken to mean the refusal of an order from Henry. The King does accept Hotspur's answer, but then he and Hotspur begin to fight over the matter of Mortimer, the Earl of March. Hotspur wants Henry to ransom Mortimer, who has been captured by the Welsh rebel, Owen Glendower.

The King thinks that Mortimer, who has married Glendower's daughter, has defected to the Welsh, and, not only does he refuse the request to ransom him, he chides Hotspur for taking Mortimer's side in the matter. Hotspur is livid, and defends both himself and Mortimer, only to have the King silence him: "sirrah, henceforth/Let me not hear you speak of Mortimer." Any reconciliation that may have been in progress is ruined, and the King demands Hotspur hand over his prisoners immediately. The King exits in a rage, and Hotspur screams: "An if the devil come and roar for them/I will not send them."

Hotspur discusses with the Percy family the King's ungrateful attitude, and his uncle, Worcester, tells him to release his captured rebels and enlist them in his own army against King Henry. Worcester outlines a plan which would unite Glendower, Mortimer, Douglas, and the Archbishop of York with the Percys and together they will overthrow King Henry. Thus, the troublesome reign of King Henry the usurper receives another blow, just as King Richard predicted.


Explanatory Notes for Act 1, Scene 3
From Henry IV, Part I. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark and Maynard.
(Line numbers have been altered.)

3. Found me to be thus unapt.

6. Than my condition, than be what my temperament denotes.

17. Presence, demeanor.

27. Misprision, mistake.

38. A pouncet-box, a small box with perforated lid, containing an aromatic smelling-powder.

40. Who, his nose.

41. Took it in snuff. This is word-play. To take anything in snuff was to take offense at it, to be indignant at it.

47. Holiday and lady terms, ceremonious terms. Much Ado, V. 2, "Festival terms"; Merry Wives, iii. 2, "He speaks holiday."

51. Popinjay, parrot.

54. He should, the king should or should not have the prisoners.

59. Parmaceti, a corruption of spermaceti.

63. Tall fellow, brave fellow. The epithets tall and stout were often applied to men and ships with the sense of sturdy, brave, gallant.

64. But, unless, except.

88. Indent with fears, make terms with fears, dangers causing fears.

102. In changing hardiment, in exchange of hard blows.

106. Who, the Severn, or the tutelary power of the stream.

108. Crisp, curled.

120. Sirrah, used only towards an inferior.

140. Canker'd, ill-natured.

146. An eye of death, an eye of deadly fear.

149. Next of blood. Edmund Mortimer, son of Roger, was next in order of succession to Richard II.

151. And then it was. And it was then.

162. His cousin king. There is here a quibbling allusion to cozen, that is, cozening or crafty.

167. Of murderous subornation, of the guilt of procuring the murder of Richard.

172. Line, position. So in iii. 2, "And in that very line, Harry, stand'st thou."

180. This canker. The canker means here the dog-rose, as in Much Ado About Nothing, i. 3, "I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in his grace!"

185. Your banish'd honors, your honors that have been banished from the opinion of good men.

187. Disdain'd, disdainful. The affix -ed used to denote having, or characterized by, oftener than now.

198. Footing, support.

212. Corrival, partner.

214. A world of figures, innumerable imaginary forms of danger which keep his mind from the proper work before it.

221. A Scot, a tax payment. Cf. scot-free.

237. Defy, renounce, abjure.

238. Bolingbroke, the king was so called from a castle of that name in Lincolnshire.

239. Sword-and-buckler, not then accounted gentlemanly arms; the rapier had superseded them.

240. Could not have been said in earnest.

253. The madcap duke. Edmund, Duke of York, son of Edward III, a weak-minded man, and more given to pastime than to business. He died in 1402. Kept, lodged.

271. The Douglas' son. Mordake, Earl of Fife, not really the Douglas' son.

281. His brother's death, etc. This is a mistake. The Archbishop of York was Richard Scroop, son of Lord Scroop of Bolton. The Scroop who was beheaded at Bristol was Lord William Scroop of Masham, Earl of Wiltshire.

282. In estimation, according to conjecture.

288. Thou still let'st slip, an allusion to setting a leash of greyhounds free from the slips for the chase. Still, always.

289. It cannot choose but be, it can not help being.

297. Him, himself.

How to cite the introduction:

Mabillard, Amanda. Introduction to King Henry IV, Part 1 (1.3). Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.

How to cite the explanatory notes:

Shakespeare, William. King Henry IV, Part 1. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark and Maynard, 1885. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.


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